Thiamine:Vitamin B1

Thiamine:Vitamin B1

I’m always researching and as some of my clients know, I keep mentioning about vitamin B1! There is increasing research and interest in this nutrient, so I am sharing some of the research I’ve found.


Roles of thiamine

Thiamine is B vitamin, which is needed for cells to make energy, important for the nervous system and has a key role in gut health. It’s needed for the vagus nerve to send signals to the gut to reduce inflammation, and control other digestive activities. It’s also a critical nutrient for methylation, as thiamine helps with the proper utilisation of b12 and folate.

Deficiencies of thiamine are associated with Alzheimer’s dementia, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and diabetes. Thiamine is considered by some a superior treatment for diabetic complications such as kidney damage and loss of vision.

There is also thought to be a role of thiamine with adrenal function, so it can help to calm.

Food sources of thiamine include pork, fish, nuts, sunflower seeds and peas. However, as thiamine is so easily depleted from the body unfortunately our diets don’t always provide sufficient amounts.


What can deplete thiamine?

1) Chronic inflammation depletes thiamine

2) A diet high in carbohydrate

3) Magnesium deficiency causes thiamine deficiency, this is incredibly common, many of the people I see need a lot of magnesium! Magnesium I’m finding is needed in a range of different forms.

4) Leaky gut causes less thiamine to be absorbed

6) Some viruses and illnesses

7) Growth and pregnancy


Infections/flares and B1

Thiamine deficiency is common with children who have constant inflammatory situations, often they need high dose B1 as well as magnesium to break even with the thiamine needs of their high inflammatory state.

In ‘some’ scenarios where it is believed there is an infection, researchers believe instead what is happening is a thiamine deficiency and there is actually no infection. As referenced below thiamine initiates a danger response in the body and that can alone cause an inflammatory response independent of pathogenic infection. In other words, thiamine deficiency can also mimic pathogenic infection with fevers and lymph swellings.


Gut health and thiamine

As I’ve written about before, thiamine can increase stomach acid, but it’s also involved in other roles in the gut such as pancreatic digestive enzymes, intestinal contractions/motility and as mentioned above vagal nerve function. Thiamine can help those with constipation, reflux and SIBO. What I’m finding recently is that clients can sometimes reduce the need a little for other gut supports such as betaine HCL.


Appetite and picky eating

A thiamine deficiency can produce both anorexia and/or overeating. This is because thiamine affects the autonomic system which regulates activities such as appetite.


Oxalates/phenols and thiamine

Eating a high oxalate diet without sufficient thiamine can increase uptake of oxalates. Just to note though, if you do have oxalate issues then adding B vitamins (particularly B1 and B2) can cause what’s known as ‘oxalate dumping’ (oxalates are released from storage in the tissues into the bloodstream and this can result in increased oxidative stress, skin rashes, bladder irritation, and mast cell activation). Thiamine itself is causing those issues.

Foods high in phenols are also thought to drain thiamine.


Which thiamine?

There are different forms of B1, please work with your practitioner to find the correct one and dose for you. I’m finding timing is also important when dosing thiamine.